Saturday, September 22, 2012

 

Will Monday’s hearing in Federal Court be the last gasp of federal farm trafficking cases in Hawaii?


by Larry Geller

The long-delayed case filed by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission against Global Horizons Manpower, Inc. and six Hawaii farms will have its day in court on Monday, 9/24.

The Hawaii farms were Captain Cook Coffee Company, Del Monte Fresh Produce, Kauai Coffee Company, Kelena Farms, Mac Farms of Hawaii, and Maui Pineapple farms.

The EEOC action is a civil case seeking compensation to Thai workers and to enjoin defendants from continuing certain allegedly abusive practices.

Hawaii was to be the venue for the “largest human trafficking” case in the history of the country filed by the US Department of Justice. It didn’t happen. The DOJ dropped that case on July 20. That was after prosecutorial error earlier forced the abandonment of the feds’ human trafficking case against Aloun Farms owners, who, under a plea agreement that was subsequently thrown out, had once pled guilty. Aloun Farms was not named in the EEOC case.

Thai workers felt that American justice had abandoned them after the Global Horizons case was dismissed:

[T]hree other defendants had pled guilty and detailed actions they took as employees of Global Horizons in their plea filings. That information would have informed a jury, had the trial taken place. These defendants will now be allowed to plead anew. The human trafficking case is not going to happen. It’s all over.

Except it isn’t over for the Thai workers, who cooperated with investigators and expected that American justice would prevail.

[Trafficked Thai farm workers write to Attorney General Eric Holder after trial cancellation, 8/13/2012]

All that was left for the workers were EEOC suits against Global Horizons and a number of farms in Hawaii and on the Continent. In August, a judge took apart a great deal of the EEOC case in Washington State:

Joining a wave of similar decisions across the country, Judge Edward F. Shea of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington this week held that EEOC actions seeking relief for a pattern or practice of unlawful employment actions under § 707 must adhere to the 300-day limitations period set forth by § 706. In EEOC v. Global Horizons, Inc., et al., No. CV-11-3045-EFS (E.D. Wash. July 27, 2012), the Court imposed this critical limitation on EEOC pattern or practice claims and barred the EEOC from seeking relief for employment practices occurring more than 300 days before the filing of the underlying administrative charge. Moreover, Judge Shea rejected the EEOC’s far-reaching attempt to apply joint employer status among the various defendants with wholesale vicarious liability.

[eeoccountdown.com, Eastern District Of Washington Wipes Out Another EEOC Attempt To Circumvent § 706’s 300-Day Limitation Period, 8/2/2012]

On Monday (9/24/2012) the focus shifts again to Hawaii. Judge David Alan Ezra will hear a number of motions to dismiss in his 4th floor courtroom at the federal courthouse at 300 Ala Moana Blvd.

There are 373 documents filed in this case (see below). While research is always good, it may be expeditious to instead show up at the courthouse on Monday to see what happens.

This case is the last chance so far for Hawaii Thai workers to gain compensation. Will the feds let them down once again?

A further hearing has been set for 10/26/2012 09:45 am before Judge Ezra.

Here is the court calendar for Monday’s hearing.

Judge
Judge David Alan Ezra

Case
CV 11-00257DAE-RLP

Time
09:00

Plaintiff
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Attorneys:
Anna Y. Park Michael J. Farrell Sue J. Noh Thomas S. Lepak Lorena Garcia-Bautista

Defendants
Global Horizons, Inc., dba Global Horizons Manpower, Inc.; Caption Cook Coffee Company Ltd.; Del Monte Fresh Produce (Hawaii); Kauai Coffee Company, Inc.; Kalena Farms, Inc.; Mac Farms of Hawaii, LLC, nka MF Nut Co., LLC; Maui Pineapple Company, Ltd., aka Maui Pineapple Farms; et al.
Attorneys:
Amanda Marie Jones Kristin S. Shigemura Roy A. Vitousek , III David W.H. Chee Annie T. Zaffuto Carol C. Lumpkin Christopher J. DeGroff Gerald L. Maatman , Jr Laura J. Maechtlen Mark J. Bennett Richard John Wallsgrove Jim Darnell Sarah O. Wang Jennifer C. T. Woo Barbara A. Petrus Anne T. Horiuchi Carolyn K. Wong Christopher S. Yeh Sean K. Sanada Michael Jay Green

Motion
[269] MOTION to Dismiss Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss The Third Amended Complaint [272] MOTION to Dismiss Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss The Third Amended Complaint [277] MOTION to Dismiss Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss the Third Amended Complaint [285] MOTION to Dismiss Third Amended Complaint [Doc 263] MOTION to Dismiss Third Amended Complaint [Doc 263] [286] MOTION to Dismiss Defendant Mac Farms of Hawaii, LLC n/k/a MF Nut Co., LLC's Motion to Dismiss Count IV (Retaliation) and Joint Liability Allegations of Third Amended Complaint Filed July 2, 2012 [287] MOTION to Dismiss Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint [D.E. 263] [288] MOTION to Dismiss Defendant Maui Pineapple Company, Ltd.'s Motion to Dismiss Retaliation Claim in Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint [ECF No. 263] [289] MOTION to Dismiss Kelena Farms, Inc.'s Motion for Partial Dismissal of the Third Amended Complaint filed July 2, 2012 [296]MOTION for Joinder re 272 MOTION to Dismiss Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss The Third Amended Complaint, 269 MOTION to Dismiss Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss The Third Amended Complaint, 286 MOTION to Dismiss Defendant Mac Farms of Hawaii, LLC n/k/a MF Nut Co., LLC's Motion to Dismiss Count IV (Retaliation) and Joint Liability Allegations of Third Amended Complaint [297]MOTION for Joinder re 272 MOTION to Dismiss Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss The Third Amended Complaint, 269 MOTION to Dismiss Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss The Third Amended Complaint, 286 MOTION to Dismiss Defendant Mac Farms of Hawaii, LLC n/k/a MF Nut Co., LLC's Motion to Dismiss Count IV (Retaliation) and Joint Liability Allegations of Third Amended Complaint [298]MOTION for Joinder re 272 MOTION to Dismiss Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss The Third Amended Complaint, 269 MOTION to Dismiss Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss The Third Amended Complaint, 286 MOTION to Dismiss Defendant Mac Farms of Hawaii, LLC n/k/a MF Nut Co., LLC's Motion to Dismiss Count IV (Retaliation) and Joint Liability Allegations of Third Amended Complaint




[Disappeared News won’t be able to attend the hearing on Monday. In my secret identity as president of Kokua Council, I’ll be moderating a meeting over at Harris Church where the two mayoral candidates will speak and answer questions. There will be coverage by Hawaii Reporter and Civil Beat that we can all read later, and I’ll post links here.]

[Heck, if you can’t make it to the courthouse, why not join us at Harris Church for An hour with Honolulu Mayoral candidates ]



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